Book Review: Behold the Bones

Behold the Bones (Beware the Wild #2)
By: Natalie C. Parker
Published by: HarperTeen
Release date: February 23, 2016
Genre: YA paranormal
368 pages
Source: galley kindly provided by publisher
Review of Book #1: Beware the Wild

This is a companion book to Beware the Wild, published in October 2014, which I very much enjoyed. I was excited to have a chance to revisit Sticks and its swamp, with the wasting shine and the ever-blooming cherry tree. But this was more than a simple continuation; this is a complete change of narrator, offering the reader access to a completely different perspective and a whole new set of secrets.

Our narrator is Candy Pickens, a best friend of the BTW's narrator Sterling. Candy is special in her little town, for more than her contributions to the high school volleyball team or the boys' conquest stories. Candy's family is intimately tied to the swamp and the wasting shine, and Candy herself is the latest in a long line of members who carry the family curse. The curse seems to be related to her inability to see the shine or the ghosts that are no longer contained by the fence around the swamp. This, in addition to other ways in which Candy feels vastly different from her friends, lights a fire under her to find a way to change things.

One of my favorite things about Candy is that she perfectly illustrates how a person can be socially connected and powerful, and yet feel isolated and misunderstood. YA is almost annoyingly full of loner types who only have one or two close friends; Candy has tons of friends and relatives, and a restless spirit that keeps her from languishing too long when she finds some space of her own. When a new family comes to town, she quickly connects to both of the teens. She's charismatic, daring, and more likely to take action than to dwell on her problems.

The magical elements are a mirror image of what we saw in Beware the Wild, but we get a little more explanation in this volume. I appreciate that the power of the swamp can be shaped and used to reflect the intent of the human will; it isn't "good" magic or "bad". It does stir up some complications all on its own as well, which keeps the whole town on its toes. Understandably, everyone seems to be looking to Candy to get things back under control; it seems as though she's the only one who can.

Candace “Candy” Pickens has been obsessed with the swamp lore of her tiny Louisiana town for . . . forever. Name any ghostly swamp figure and Candy will recite the entire tale in a way that will curl your toes and send chills up your spine.

That doesn’t mean Candy’s a believer, however. Even though she and her friends entered the swamp at the start of summer and left it changed, Candy’s the only one who can’t see or feel the magical swamp Shine. She’s also the only one who can’t see the ghosts that have been showing up and spooking everyone in town ever since. So Candy concentrates on other things—real things. Like fighting with her mother and plotting her escape from her crazy town.

But ghosts aren’t the only newcomers in Sticks, Louisiana. The King family arrives like a hurricane: in a blur and unwanted—at least by Candy. Mr. King is intent on filming the rumored ghostly activity for his hit TV show, Local Haunts. And while Candy can’t ignore how attracted she is to eighteen-year-old Gage King and how much his sister, Nova, wants to be friends, she’s still suspicious of the King family.

As Candy tries to figure out why the Kings are really in town and why the swamp that had previously cast her aside now seems to be invading every crack in her logical, cynical mind, she stumbles across the one piece of swamp lore she didn’t know. It’s a tale that’s more truth than myth, and may have all the answers . . . and its roots are in Candy’s own family tree.